BlackPearl wants partner for newly approved Canada oil sands project

Fri Sep 16, 2016 1:00pm EDT
 
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By Nia Williams

CALGARY, Alberta, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Canadian producer BlackPearl Resources Inc is looking for a partner to develop its 80,000-barrel-per-day Blackrod oil sands project in northern Alberta, the company's chief executive told Reuters on Friday.

The Calgary-based company received approval from the Alberta government to build the Blackrod thermal project late on Thursday.

It is the largest energy project to be approved by Alberta's left-leaning New Democratic Party government since it was elected in May 2015. The Ministry of Energy also gave the green light to Surmont Energy Ltd's 12,000 bpd Wildwood thermal project and Husky Energy Inc's 3,000 bpd Saleski project on Thursday.

Collectively they represent around C$4 billion of potential investment in Alberta's battered economy but all three require final investment decisions before being built, and no new oil sands projects have been sanctioned by companies since the start of the two-year price rout.

Developing Blackrod to its full 80,000 bpd capacity would transform BlackPearl from an oil sands minnow producing less than 10,000 bpd into a mid-sized player in the Canadian energy industry.

But given persistent low prices, BlackPearl Chief Executive John Festival said the company would not be advancing Blackrod on its own, and would instead concentrate on the second phase of its Onion Lake project in Saskatchewan.

"We do not have plans to go out and build at Blackrod but we would entertain a partnership with someone else if they want to come in and carry us for the first phase," Festival said.

Festival said U.S. crude would need to average $55-$60 a barrel for the company to break even on the full-cycle cost of building the project and get a 10 percent return on investment.   Continued...